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  Sat, October 16, 2004


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NFL CANADA




No Red Sox tears -- just rain
The good news of this washout is Boston fans won't have to mourn a loss
By BOB ELLIOTT -- Toronto Sun

Bill Mueller of the Boston Red Sox walks across the rain tarp covering Boston's Fenway Park before Game 3 of the ALCS with the New York Yankees, Friday Oct. 15, 2004. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

The Boston Red Sox still trail. The good news for Red Sox fans was there was no loss to mourn last night as Game 3 of the American League Championship Series was rained out at Fenway Park.

And that could mean advantage Boston.

The day of rain, which fell mainly on the red and green seats, the tarp-covered infield and leaked into both clubhouses of the crumbling old stadium, means that Pedro Martinez could start Game 5 at Fenway Park on Monday, if the Sox can extend the series that long.

Martinez at Fenway is preferable to Game 6 at Yankee Stadium. Now, the Game 6 starter in the best-of-seven series could be righty and 21-game winner Curt Schilling, who hopes to rebound from his right ankle strain and be healthy enough to start.

Plus, the teams are looking at playing five successive days if it goes the distance. New York's bullpen can't handle that. Mariano Rivera has been able to pick up two-inning saves in the post-season because of all the off days.

So, not a win, not a loss, but Boston buys some time. Advantage Boston, the longer this goes. Like tennis. We remember a gym teacher telling our class never to marry a tennis player because they think "love means nothing."

The rains likely wiped scheduled Game 5 starter Derek Lowe, a contact pitcher who surrendered the most runs in the majors, off the docket.

Tonight, Kevin Brown faces Bronson Arroyo in Game 4. Tomorrow, Orlando (El Duque) Hernandez faces Tim Wakefield.

"I throw inside less than 75% of the starters in the league," said Arroyo, the best of the four starters set to work the next two days. "When I do go inside, it's for a purpose; I have to go in there whether it's Gary Sheffield, Alex Rodriguez or Derek Jeter."

The pitching matchups will decide whether the series returns to the Bronx or the Yanks are dancing on the grass at Fenway and spraying champagne in the cramped clubhouse, which is about the size of an unfinished basement.

Or the perfect size for the Hickory Hoosiers high school hoops team.

It was wet inside both clubhouses last night. At Fenway, when it rains outside, it also rains inside.

The rains dampen the enthusiasm of fans as they prepared for another game -- or heartbreak. They lined Yawkey Way six hours before the scheduled first pitch, eating sausages, buying "Reverse the Curse" T-shirts and chanting, "Yankees suck!"

"This city is devoted to the Sox, win or lose," said Brian Cawley, manager of the bar Cheers, the model for the TV show. "It's like college football in the south. There is a loyal fan base that comes back, year after year, no matter how painful."

The Sox have been in the playoffs the past two years, with 98 wins in each season, setting attendance records and attracting 2.8 million fans in 2004.

"I played for the Cleveland Indians for seven years and it's not even close," Sox left fielder Manny Ramirez said. "We've got the best fans in the world. When I run out to left, I point to the fans, they love that."

One team has 26 World Series championship rings, the other is on an 85-year losing streak in this heated rivalry.

Isn't a rivalry where teams take turns winning?

New York-Boston is like Germany against France or the Harlem Globetrotters against the Washington Generals.

We thought with Schilling and Martinez starting the ALCS, it would be 2-0 Sox but we haven't seen an encouraging sign from the Sox. Until the rain.

Schilling played long toss with new high-topped cleats to support his damaged right ankle.

"It worked okay," Sox manager Terry Francona said, "except we had the wrong-sized shoes for him."

Only in Boston.

"Momentum?" Francona said. "All I know is that we didn't lose (last night)."